News Corp Acquires ‘World’s First Social News Agency’ for $25 Million

This post was originally written for The Global Panorama, and has been uploaded here as part of a growing portfolio of work.

In a surprising and sudden move that continues to highlight the rapidly growing role which social media and user-generated content play in journalism, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News Corporation has acquired the online news agency, Storyful.

PICTURE: Alex Proimos SOURCE: WikiMedia Commons

PICTURE: Alex Proimos SOURCE: WikiMedia Commons

Storyful, which labels itself as the ‘world’s first social news agency’, was purchased by News Corp. for $US 25 million.

‘We built our success on partnerships. We’re going to become a global force through partnerships. Today, I’m happy to announce Storyful has been acquired by News Corp.,’ wrote Mark Little, the CEO and Founder of Storyful on a blog post on the website.

In buying Storyful, News Corp., previously known as News Limited, has the ability to gain income from the surge in online, user-generated content – a growing and vital source for which newsrooms around the world are searching.

‘We join News Corp. in a moment of transformation. Together, we will combine the authority of premier original content with the authenticity of user-generated content. We will define the opportunities that the digital landscape presents rather than simply adapt to them. Ours will be a powerful and unique partnership,’ Little explained.

Storyful helps journalists and news organisations around the world use social media to ‘make their news-gathering, reporting and storytelling shine.’ It finds new and original content online from regular people from around the world, from places like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

The team of journalists, based in Dublin, work to verify the content through a range of techniques that they have been ‘building and refining’ since the creation of the start up agency in 2010.

Following the process that varies from story to story, Storyful contacts owners of videos, photos, or people who are ‘in the know’. They obtain the rights to content and distribute it to new organisations around the world.

Some of Storyful’s clients include the BBC, ABC News, Al Jazeera, The New York Times, France 24 and The Wall Street Journal.

‘Storyful has become the village square for valuable video, using journalistic sensibility, integrity and creativity to find, authenticate and commercialise user-generated content. Through this acquisition, we can extend the village square across borders, languages and platforms,’ said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp.

CEO of Storyful, Mark Little, is excited about the changes ahead: ‘We believe that journalism in the age of social media needs to be open, innovative and collaborative, and so does the business model that will sustain it. News Corp. is a natural fit for a company which wants to help reinvent the news industry,’ he said. ‘This is what Storyful is all about. Social media hasn’t killed journalism. It has given it a new lease of life.’

The company has stated in a press release that Storyful will remain operating as a stand alone company, with Mr. Little to report to Senior News Corp. Vice President, David Brinker.

News Corp says that user-generated content that was verified by Storyful in 2013 generated 750 million views for its international partners.

Firm research company eMarketer predicts advertisers will spend around $US 4.15 billion on digital video advertising this coming year — 44% on 2013, solidifying News Corporation’s decision to acquire the growing curation website.

This post was originally published on December 26, 2013.

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